The most famous monastery in Cyprus is in the heart of the mountains, not even 30 km from the Troodos Square. The access road is in very good condition and even spectacular in places.
The nearly 1,000-year history of the place of worship is a tumultuous one. But here you will find an icon that, if it were to be discovered, is said to blind anyone who looks at it.
Kykkos, the “star” of Troodos
Kykkos is one of the most famous monasteries on the island and is located at an altitude of 1,318 m. It is a monastery of monks and access inside is allowed only if you are decently dressed.
If you happen to arrive there in shorts and a t-shirt, it’s not a problem because at the entrance you are given a hood/robe to put on. You have to keep in mind that you can’t take photos everywhere, but there are enough signs for that.
At the monastery shop you can buy icons, incense, myrrh and various other small souvenirs. Many of the people there speak English so you should be fine if you want to hang around and listen to stories if you come across a more chatty monk.
Don’t miss Makariou III
Three kilometers above the monastery is the tomb of Makariu III (1913-1977), who was the archbishop of Cyprus and the first president of the Republic (1960-1977). His wish was to be buried near the monastery.
During his presidency, the Turkish invasion of 1974 also took place. Makariu III was famous for his desire to unite Cyprus with Greece.
🚩 See here what else you can visit around 👉 Troodos – let’s explore Cyprus mountains
The story of Virgin Mary icon
At the Kykkos Monastery in Troodos you will find the icon of the Mother of God, one of the three painted by the Apostle Luke (d 84 AD). It is said that the model for this icon was the Virgin Mary herself.
You won’t be able to see the whole icon though because the top half is covered because anyone looking will be blinded. The last person known to have seen the icon in its entirety is the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, Gerasimos, in 1669.
The icon is discovered by monks only when they want to make special prayers during times of drought or other calamities. But then those present are very careful not to raise their eyes to her.
A monastery for an icon
The icon was sent from Constantinople to Cyprus in the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1048-1118). He ordered the Kykkos Monastery to be built to house her. In this way, the emperor wanted to honor the miracle-working icon that healed his sick daughter.
Since then, the wooden monastery burned in 1365 and 1541. Then it was rebuilt in stone, but two more fires followed, in 1751 and 1813. Important works of art and manuscripts were destroyed then.
The bell tower was built later, in 1882, and has 6 bells, the largest of which – 1,280 kg, was made in Russia.
How to get to Kykkos
If you have a car, you can include a stop in Pano Platres in your day trip. It’s worth a walk through the old streets – and to the Kalidonia waterfall – an easy 2.4 km, shaded trail on the banks of a stream. At the base of the waterfall is a restaurant serving very good fresh grilled trout.
A short stop on the Plateau in Troodos, for a shopping of peanuts and souvenirs and another 29 km of serpentines to Kykkos.
Between the Troodos Plateau and Kykkos you pass through two more villages – Prodromos and Pedoulas – if you have time, it’s worth at least a short walk through the center.
I have come to the conclusion that all the mountain villages are worth taking a walk at least through the central areas because each one has something beautiful to see. Now, it also depends on the tastes…
A trip to the Kykkos monastery will basically take you all day if you also make a few stops along the way.
Celebration day: September 8
Visiting hours: Nov – May: 10.00 – 16.00, Jun – Oct: 10.00 – 18.00
Phone: +357 22 942 742
Entrance fee: 5 euros
Location: Trodos Mountains, Nicosia District